Joe Kelly: Recruiting free agents is 'outdated and cheesy'

By , Audacy Sports

The MLB Hot Stove is upon us, meaning the top free agents can expect to be wined and dined by their most eager suitors.

Now is the time when these coveted players hear pitches about what separates a prospective destination from its competitors.

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But according to White Sox veteran reliever Joe Kelly, the sales pitch ultimately means little. In fact, he thinks the full-court press can work against a team.

"I think it's kind of outdated and cheesy, honestly," Kelly told host Rob Bradford on the "Baseball Isn't Boring" podcast. "That kind of recruiting, that's what college kids like."

Instead, Kelly thinks it comes down to money, the team's prospects for competing, and how the team thinks it can help the player improve.

"Big leaguers are just like, 'Hey is the team good, do you have good family, is the money the same as the offer from someone else?'"

Kelly is no stranger to free agency, having hit the open market twice in his 11-year career. While his free agency tours were not at all on par with those of the likes of Bryce Harper or Aaron Judge, he doesn't think "perks" such as the cafeteria or analytical technology makes much difference.

"Everyone's going to be similar with money for an Aaron Judge-type player. There's nothing that they're going to show you -- you know what I mean? There's no differences."

"Aaron Judge came from the big leagues of the big leagues. The Yankees have the best food -- they bring in Brazilian steakhouses to come cut it on your plate. So there's nothing that a team's going to show him that Aaron Judge hasn't seen. So ultimately it's like, what do you do for family, what are you going to do to give me my alone time, can I talk to less media here? ... Wherever you feel more comfortable, what can you do for me on that aspect? Because the money's going to be the same. But you're not going to have a bell and whistle and be like, 'Look at what we have. This is a new technology.' It's like, 'I just had that.' ... It's stupid. We're grown men. You can't ooh and ahh me like I'm an 18-year-old kid. ... What are you trying to tell a 30-year-old that he doesn't already know about this world?"

Kelly's comments come days after Judge reportedly met with the San Francisco Giants. The recently minted American League MVP is arguably the top free agent in this offseason's class, though his hefty price tag and presumed preference to sign with a contending team might limit his list of suitors to a small handful.

In any event, according to Kelly, any team that is the right fit for a free agent, especially a highly coveted one, shouldn't have to oversell itself to sign the player.

"The recruiting might hurt their chances, honestly. ... He's already got money. I'd be skeptical of going on recruiting trips. If I was an organization, I would be like, 'Hey, we're known for being the best, let's not even recruit.' Because it's almost desperate.

"Aaron Judge doesn't need to be recruited. And honestly, I wouldn't even want to go. Waste my time? I've got shit to do."

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